Other City of Houston Tweet-Along Opportunities

Oh the hijinks that are possible.
The Houston Police Department has held a couple of "Tweet Alongs" where officers report on their activities on the beat, tagging them #HPDTweetAlong. The most recent was a rather uneventful night shift. It got us to thinking that there are plenty of opportunities for the city to better engage the world of social media via Twitter hashtags.

We don't just mean tweets from the Mayor of members of City Council, or the fire department -- those guys have far more important things to do than tweet. We're talking about the folks with boots on the ground handling the thankless jobs involved in running the fourth largest city in America. Here are some suggestions.

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HSPVA Student's #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Tweet Draws National Attention

Contributed photos

Tyler Atkins, 17, was still fuming about the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager gunned down by police in Ferguson, Missouri over the weekend, when he saw the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown as he scrolled through his Twitter feed. The hashtag was a response to the photo being circulated of Brown, a blurry image that showed Brown throwing what could have been a gang sign, versus a clearer photo from Brown's high school graduation. A picture is worth a thousand words, but the choice of photo to depict Brown has been worth thousands of Twitter posts.

On Monday evening Atkins, an incoming senior at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, grabbed a couple photos of his own - one of himself dressed all in black and posing during a rap video he made with some friends for a math project (on polynomials), the other of him dressed in a tuxedo and holding his saxophone after a school jazz concert - and posted the images with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. From there, things got interesting as his post went all over the Internet.

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Houston Police Provide Glimpse Into Night Shift With #HPDTweetAlong

Not quite the same level of action, but interesting nevertheless.
Overnight on Thursday, the Houston Police Department conducted a kind of ride along, which is an actual thing (who knew?), not just something done for comic relief in a movie. But instead of taking a potential son-in-law candidate who is scared shitless by the officer's insane antics on the beat, HPD took along the Twitterverse via its Twitter feed and the hashtag #HPDTweetAlong.

Fortunately for the officers involved in the social media experiment, but unfortunately for those expecting high-speed chases and gunplay, it was a rather quiet night. Nevertheless, it was a glimpse into a world most of us never see, complete with photos and video.

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App of the Week: Anonymously Rant to Your Heart's Content With Speakle

Or rant...whichever.
App: Speakle
Platform: iPhone, Android
Website: Speakleapp.com
Cost: Free (requires registration)

There was a time when the Internet was almost entirely anonymous. If you wanted to keep yourself hidden from the masses, you could. You can still do that, but with social networking it is increasingly more difficult to do so. With that comes the burden of having your friends and family members see nearly everything you post.

Former University of Houston grads Saika Momin and Sadiq Momin think they have the answer with Speakle, a kind of social media for the anonymous app that promises to keep your identity hidden, but still allowing you to participate in discussions with others. It's like an old school chat room or online forum before Facebook and Twitter took over.

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Houston Woman Sues Facebook Over Revenge Porn Account

Photo by Maria Elena

Meryem Ali got a call from her cousin.

"Meryem, what is up with you and Facebook?" her cousin asked in December 2013.

Ali said she hadn't logged onto the site in months.

"You need to get home and look at it," her cousin told her, "because someone's acting like it's you, and it's not you."

Ali soon found a Facebook profile of her filled with sexual, doctored photos of her, including a photo of her performing a sex act. She asked Facebook to delete the fake profile, then she asked some more. Finally, the social network did so in April.

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Harris County Boy Hospitalized From Latest Internet Trend, the Fire Challenge

Youtube screenshot
Taken from a video titled "Fire Challenge Gone Wrong"...as if it can ever go right.
You've probably seen it at some point on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Vine feeds: people, particularly teenagers, participating in video "challenges" that usually involve doing something pretty stupid. Say, for instance, swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon in under 60 seconds, or dumping an entire bucket of ice on your head (respectively and creatively called the "Cinnamon" and "Ice" challenges).

The latest, and probably most stupid, challenge trend of them all, the #FireChallenge, has hospitalized a Harris County teenager for harmful burns. According to Lieutenant Dean Hensley of the Harris County Fire Marshal's office, the boy doused himself in isopropyl alcohol, a highly flammable substance, and proceeded to set himself on fire.

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Classmates.com Is Still a Thing?

Uh, no thanks.
The above image is a screenshot of an e-mail that appeared in my inbox recently. It's from Classmates.com. If you have never heard of it, well, it's not surprising. Just as certain inventions like the car killed off horse-drawn carriages, Classmates has been rendered almost entirely useless by Facebook...yet the good people of Classmates seem to hang on and, get this, they actually charge for it.

You heard me. This enticing e-mail with the promise of seeing pictures of some ex-significant other -- in hopes they got wrinkled and disfigured after leaving you for that jackass jock at the prom -- or some dude you thought was dreamy in 10th grade, second period algebra -- he's now a night watchman at warehouse park who enjoys long walks on the beach and scratching himself -- will cost you a membership fee to find out the answers.

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Some of Our Favorite Tweets from the #ImSoHouston Hashtag

#ImSoHouston blew up on Wednesday.
It's rare when a hashtag gets so much attention it rockets to the top of the trending list in Houston. But that's what happened on Wednesday when #ImSoHouston cropped up and began a flood of responses from people describing why they too are SO Houston.

This spawned some memorable and hilarious responses from Houstonians. We have not only some very interesting folks here, but also some seriously self deprecating ones as well. Here is a selection of some of our favorites from Twitter. There were others posted on Facebook as well, but we'll stick with the hashtag.

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Twittersphere Strikes Back at Cruel #Jadapose Hashtag

Screenshot from msnbc.com

Two weeks ago, Jada, a Houston teenager who said she was raped and that pictures of the rape went viral on social media, told her story to KHOU. We were one of the first media outlets to write about #jadapose, a hashtag people were using to mock Jada as they posted pictures of them lying on the ground like Jada was the night of the alleged rape.

Commenters said #jadapose was "disgusting." Reader Andrew Davis wrote, "One of these days God will cut them (users of the hashtag) down."

In the time since we published that article, Jada has gone national with her story, doing interviews with many media outlets, including CNN and HuffPost Live, to which she said, "I'm just very tired." And now social media has turned in support of Jada.

New hashtags such as #IAmJada, #Jadacounterpose, #StandwithJada and #JusticeforJada have spread on the twittersphere. Even #Jadapose is now overrun by tweeters who side with Jada.

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Houston Chronicle Live Tweeted the Stay Funeral

Time and place for everything?
The six members of the Stay family from Spring who were brutally murdered one week ago by the children's uncle, Ron Lee Haskell, who has been charged with capital murder, were laid to rest on Wednesday. In attendance was the sole survivor of the attack, 15-year-old Cassidy Stay, who helped lead police to Haskell by calling 911 after she had been critically shot.

Tributes and fund-raising opportunities have sprouted up across the city and the Internet to assist a grieving family with their loss, and, not surprisingly, the news coverage of the crime has been intense. For the most part, the news media has been respectful of the family's privacy while doing its job covering the story as closely as possible. But we have to wonder if the Houston Chronicle's efforts on Wednesday were a tad over the top.

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